Monday, October 19, 2009


A question is posed from a reader on Gocomics as to the progression of events that formed today's 9 Chickweed Lane cartoon - the chick or the egg, so to speak. (click the image for a larger view.)

What I had planned for this daily cartoon was another in what is now a series in which the black background merges with the black dancewear in which Edda is attired. Essentially, I had planned that Edda would be nothing but a head and shoulders, hands and feet, on a black backdrop. Body positions would be implied. When I prepare these cartoons, I go to the length of drawing her completely, as you can make out through the sketchy crosshatching. I then fill in the black to merge with her duds, at which point a transformation takes place that always amazes me. (Take a look at the work of Coles Phillips,,c.htm, who was doing this sort of thing with brilliance nearly a century ago.)

However, when I composed the cartoon, I began to sketch in the background as you see, partially obscuring the shape of her body. And then, I stopped. This was just the final study for the cartoon as yet to be drawn. But I really liked what had evolved. Sometimes, you just have to stop yourself from going further and screwing up an image that you like, i.e., liking it to death; so I forbore and, without excuses or explanation, sent in the cartoon to my syndicate.

Most of the best things I do I cannot explain, I do not plan, are entirely accidental. I have played a movement of, for instance, the Märchenbilder of Robert Schumann when, out of nowhere my accompanist and I found ourselves doing something with the music so moving that on succeeding days we tried again and again and again to recapture it, and without success. Those moments don't yield to force of will. They just appear, then evanesce.

I'm not suggesting the cartoon above is anything like that. However, I liked it, and I had the sense to leave it alone.

Post Script: I am glad that at this stage of Chickweed's existence, my abiding readers are willing and disposed to welcome such images. However, I know that by the end of the day someone will write in to object. And it will be a choleric objection. It is part of cartooning, like the short straw, and always a source of amazement and amusement.